New Year’s Greetings

While all the other humans in the house slept on this first day of 2012, (well, not exactly true – the 18-year old had yet to go to bed), I got up to tend to the animals. It’s been an unusually warm December (second warmest on record) and after yesterday’s drizzle and rain and general dreariness, the skies cleared, the temperature dropped just a bit, and sparkly frost decorated every leaf and blade of grass.

It was so pretty that I felt vindicated for not having done a fall yard cleanup! I let the girls out and gave the coops a thorough mucking out. While I fussed about in the barns, the Gems went up into the meadow.

The old girls stayed closer to their pen. Twinkydink and Philomena took a short stroll,

while sharp-eyed Agnes found things to eat.

I did not let the goats out into the yard. Pip knows that there is one last green and thorny plant – my rose bush – which he would eat down to the ground in a blink of an eye if I let him. I’ll leash the goats and take them for a walk to the edge of the woods later today. For now they’ll sun themselves in their paddock.

There is no better way to begin a new year than doing morning barn chores on a crisp winter morning. But, to leave you with an honest picture, coop cleaning means stinky chicken dust, which sticks to hair and clothing. When I came in I had to shower and change. Real animals are smelly and messy, noisy and demanding. Still, barn cleaning never fails to put me in a good mood. I hope that this morning’s beauty and peaceful companionship of my animals are harbingers of a good year to come.

I have homemade peach pie in the kitchen. The year just keeps on getting better.


  1. We had one of the coldest an driest Decembers on record. Not good when we rely on Winter rains and we’re not getting any. Our grass is usually greening up and that isn’t happening. So our donkeys are still relying on hay while the chickens roam in search of whatever they can find. I am getting as many as 14 eggs a day from my 16 girls. Crazy! One of my barred rock gals is gathering eggs to sit on. She is the first of my barred’s to ever get broody and she’s not acting broody so much as just collecting eggs. Maybe she isn’t laying and just wants one of her own? We are preparing to plant a few more bare roots as soon as they arrive at the nursery. Life on any size farm is about routine and seasons. That’s how the animals survive and thrive, and I think the same goes for us.

    Peach pie? Oh my goodness. That sounds like a great start to the year.

  2. Happy New Year! I’m with you…there is truly nothing like being outside on a cold morning, doing those necessary chores for the animals that you love! I grew up in the burbs, but I’ve lived in the country for close to 17 years and have been able to bestow this marvelous country lifestyle on my 11 year old daughter. Thanks for sharing!

      • I’m only thirteen, but I guess you could say I was the one to start our farm. The chickens, dog, Cats, parakeets, guinea-pigs, and gerbils, all my Ideas. I love the farm, most of the kids in my grade would hate it, but I would’nt trade one minute of it for anything in the world! I still would love to get cows, pigs, you know, the WHOLE farm. I just love the country life!

        • Kelly… you and my daughter sound a lot alike! I always had dogs & horses, but my daughter is completely responsible for our family of chickens, and soon to join us, our new goats. She’s outside right now, helping build their new home! Her love of animals will take her far…she intends to become a vet. She actually gets mad at me when I try to help out with her animal “chores” (she also gets mad when I call them chores!). I’m glad there are kids like you and my daughter in this world! Your parents should be proud! I know I am!

  3. We too in England have had the second warmest year on record, despite not a great summer, a warm Spring then warm Autumn and mildest winter ever, today is 15 degrees. My standard rose started flowering in early May and for the first time is still flowering through December and now January!
    My local free range Chicken keepers are still getting six eggs from ten chickens. It is amazing. I love comparing with you. I love your pictures today as usual, and it does look cold compared to us. Once again, Happy new Year.

  4. Hello, Terry. I have not been commenting alot on your blog lately, but I have been using any time I can to check in on your beautiful chickens and goats. I just have one question for you today. This might sound like a kind of dumb question but, can you house ducks and chickens together? Because I have been thinking about getting some ducks, and was wondering if that could be an option. Thank-you!


    • Oh no!! I forgot about the bunny!! I love watching her hop around with the chickens too. :)


    • Hi Kelly, you are lucky that your family goes along with your animal keeping. I had to wait until I had my own home before I could have more than a dog and cat. I haven’t kept ducks, but have friends who do keep ducks and chickens. The biggest issue is that ducks are very messy with their water. They need waterers that they can dip their whole bill in. In the winter the area around their water can get muddy and frozen – just what you don’t want your chickens to stand in. They also require different beds as they don’t roost. I suggest you go to a local poultry show and ask people who have ducks what they think. Also, different ducks have very different personalities and noise levels! Do lots of research before you jump in. That said, ducks are a lot of fun.

          • Kelly you can house chickens and ducks together but as Terry said ducks are EXTREMELY messy with their water. I only have two ducks and during the day they are outside the chicken run with their own water just for the reason Terry mentions.
            When there is snow on the ground and they are confined to the coop I use a heated chicken waterer that I place on three concrete blocks.
            Seems to help in keeping the ducks from playing too much. I then place bricks (two high and paving weight) around the concrete blocks set back about three inches and fill the gap with sand to help absorb water. It helps but water still seeps under and the shavings get wet and frozen. I then have to clean that up. Fortunately our winters are not that harsh and snow doesn’t last all that long. Haven’t had any so far. If you want more than just a few ducks I recommend seperate housing.

  5. Hi Terry,
    Happy New Year! I too spent much of the first day happily cleaning up the coop, puttering in the garden, and enjoying being with my hens. New Years eve fireworks are a big deal here, and very stressful for all animals. I generally stay close to home and try to make sure they are ok. The hens stayed on their roost, but kept standing up and peering around. the cow bellowed if I moved too far from the lighted window. The cat, a new addition a year ago, large and confident, was not concerned and would have gone out if I’d let him. I was so relieved when a little breeze came up and blew the smoke away. The quiet of New Years Day is such a gift after all that noise. Do they do the constant barrage thing where you live?

      • Lucky you! It is not so much a display thing, although we have those at the resorts, but a personal activity with every family shooting continuous firecrackers in their driveways from dusk to midnight with extras at midnight. I live on two acres but the subdivisions all around me go nuts. Horses have the hardest time because here most are not in stables.

  6. Terry, thanks for a year of wonderful blog entries. Your writing keeps me informed, entertained and connected to the lifestyle I dream of having. And I get so much from the cams. The ability to take a minute in the middle of a hectic life to peek at the hens, gems, Candy, Caper and Pip is a blessing. It’s so calming and reassuring to see those little characters I’ve come to love just going about their routine. A minute on your hencam is great therapy! Somedays I really need that, and I thank you for it.
    Happy New Year! Cecile

  7. Love the picture of Twinkydink and Philomena. I’m going to hope they are friends and it appears in the photo!